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18 May, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Quorum crisis costs Tk 125.20cr: TIB

Only 9 per cent of the total time was used for passing 24 bills from the 14th to the 18th sessions of the 10th Parliament, with each bill taking about 35 minutes to be passed, said Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), in its report titled "Parliament Watch", yesterday.

The TIB report also said the main and fundamental task of lawmakers was to formulate laws through extensive discussion in the House, but only 7 per cent of lawmakers participated in such discussions.

Citing the time taken to pass a bill in India, TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the parliament of India spent, on an average, 2.23 hours to pass a bill.

About the quorum crisis in Parliament, the TIB found that a total of 152 hours and 17 minutes, representing 13 per cent of the total time of the 18 sessions of the 10th Parliament, was lost due to lack of quorum. The total cost incurred in connection with the quorum crisis is estimated to be Tk 125.20 crore.

On an average, 30 minutes per day was lost due inadequate quorum.

The TIB estimates that one minute lost in a Parliament session costs Tk. 1.63 lakh. The daily loss of time due to quorum shortage was almost the same in the 9th Parliament—it amounted to 32 minutes—while it was 25 minutes in the 8th Parliament.

The TIB report was launched at a press conference at its office in the capital. Its chairperson, Sultana Kamal, was present on the occasion.

About all parliamentary committee, TIB found that eight committee members, including the chairman, had conflicts of interest amounting to violation of the rules.  

Dr Iftekharuzzaman said: “The parliamentary committee is a process to bring lawmakers under the process of accountability. An overwhelming part of the committee has a conflict of interest on various issues. The discussions do not become meaningful due to such issues and sometimes committee reports are not published.”

 Only 16 committees, out of the total 50, had published reports. Activities of the rest were not open, thus barring access to information, the TIB said.

The TIB also said 5 per cent time of the 10th Parliament was spent in the use of non-parliamentary language in a breach of rules, but the Speaker did not play an active role in preventing the use of such language.

About the opposition in Parliament, the TIB said the role of the main opposition was questionable due to its identity crisis.

 The TIB report mentioned that although the president of the main opposition party had been appointed a special convoy to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he did not find any gazette or official directives about his duty. As per media reports he would uphold the image of the country in the Muslim-dominated democratic country, for which he would be paid Tk 5 lakh per month.

Iftekharuzzaman said they noticed a considerable deficit in Parliament’s initiatives to establish good governance, accountability and prevention of corruption.

The TIB report also found that though more women lawmakers were present during Parliament sessions than their male counterparts, women’s participation in discussions was low.

 Sultana Kamal said: “People are the owners of the country. People have given the responsibility to some persons to look after the country. We have to see whether these people are carrying out their duties in an honest, transparent, and competent way.”

 She also said the function of lawmakers in Parliament was to formulate laws. “They must discuss them in the House to arrive at the best decision that would be the most beneficial to the people. The main and fundamental duty of lawmakers is to inform people what they are doing,” she added.

“We have observed that the decisions for the country are taken without considering whether people would have consented to it or not. Negligence and carelessness are shown in this regard— this is condemnable,” she said.

 “We have repeatedly said that people will elect their own representatives. But now we have to see whether a level playing field exists for free election. How many people think that their elected representatives are running the country and our representatives are carrying out their duties? But in every aspect we see a serious gap. Now many people think they have their voting rights. Many people are not getting the chance to cast votes,” she said.

 The TIB suggested that international agreements should be posted on websites as people had the right to know about them. It also suggested an amendment to the Article 70 of the Constitution for freedom of speech of lawmakers, regular committee meetings, and no conflict of interest for committee members.

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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